US Under-18s Downed in Opener
The U.S., which controlled the play and held a 2-0 second period lead, gave up four unanswered goals - the last an empty-netter -- and bowed to Sweden, 4-2, in their opener at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Bobruisk, Belarus tonight.
Chase Balisy put the U.S. up 1-0 with a power play tally 3:36 into the game. The U.S. then went up 2-0 on a Brandon Saad goal at 2:26 of the second. But that was it for the U.S. Sweden came back, with winger Johan Larsson leading the way, notching three goals - one on the power play, one even strength, and the final an empty-netter.
6'2" Johan Gustafson kicked out 26 of 28 shots to earn the win for Sweden. Jack Campbell took the loss, stopping 28 of 31.
"Obviously, we're disappointed with the result, especially since we were in a position to get it done with a 2-0 lead, said Under-18 head coach Kurt Kleinendorst . "To not get it done is difficult, but this is one game and it's a long tournament. We'll have to regroup tomorrow. It's time to push back."
Tomorrow, the U.S. faces Switzerland, which upset Canada today by a 3-1 score. In other games today, Russia topped the Czech Republic, 4-1, and Finland beat Latvia, 7-2.
Tues. April 13 -- Sweden 4, US 2
Wed. April 14 -- US vs. Switzerland
Fri. April 16 -- US vs. Canada
Sun. April 18 -- US vs. Belarus
Tues. April 20 -- Quarterfinals
Wed. April 21 -- Semifinals
Fri. April 23 -- Bronze and Gold Medal Games
Under-17 Team Roster Now at... 17
After the NTDP tryouts in Ann Arbor, Mich. a month ago, we listed the kids who had been asked to join the Under-17 Team this fall. More names have subsequently been added, and today USA Hockey officially listed them, bringing the roster to 17 players. Look for one more goalie and as many as four more skaters to be added by the end of the summer.
Here's the roster to date:
Jared Rutledge (Skokie, Ill. / Chicago Young Americans Midget Minor)
Connor Carrick (Oak Lawn, Ill. / Chicago Fury Midget Minor)
Seth Jones (Plano, Texas / Dallas Stars Midget Major)
Dakota Mermis (Alton, Ill. / St. Louis Blues Midget Major)
Patrick Sieloff (Ann Arbor, Mich. / Compuware Midget Minor)
Brady Skjei (Lakeville, Minn. / Lakeville North H.S.)
Jacob Trouba (Rochester, Mich. / Compuware Midget Minor)
Cam Darcy (South Boston, Mass. / Dexter School)
Thomas Di Pauli (Woodridge, Ill. / Chicago Mission Midget Minor)
Ryan Hartman (West Dundee, Ill. / Chicago Mission Midget Minor)
Nicolas Kerdiles (Lewisville, Texas /LA Selects Midget Minor)
Stephane Matteau (Chicago, Ill. / Notre Dame (Sask.) Hounds)
Nickolas Olsson (Escondido, Calif. / LA Selects Midget Minor)
Henrik Samuelsson (Pittsburgh, Pa. / P.F. Chang's Midget Major)
Quentin Shore (Denver, Colo. / Colorado Thunderbirds Midget Minor)
Brendan Silk (Melrose, Mass. / Austin Prep)
Frankie Vatrano (E. Longmeadow, Mass. / Junior Bruins - Empire)
USHL Finals Start Tonight
With the Fall Classic over seven months behind us, we are finally down to two teams. Tonight, the Green Bay Gamblers and the Fargo Force face off in the best-of-five 2010 Clark Cup Finals.
Green Bay has home ice, where they have been very tough this season (22-3-5). The Gamblers, it should be noted, have the stingiest defense, allowing just 2.33 goals per game while holding opponents to an average of 25 shots per game.
In the regular season series between the two teams, Green Bay won three of four, winning both games at home (5-2, 5-1) and splitting on the road, losing 3-1 and then winning 4-3 in a shootout.
Fargo, you will recall, was in the Clark Cup finals last season, bowing to Indiana 3-1. Green Bay last reached the finals in 1999-2000, under current Ohio State head coach Mark Osiecki.
Here's the schedule:
Fri. April 30 - Fargo @ Green Bay, 7:05 pm CDT
Sat. May 1 - Fargo @ Green Bay, 7:05 pm CDT
Fri. May 7 - Green Bay @ Fargo, 7:35 pm CDT
Sat. May 8 - Green Bay @ Fargo, 7:05 pm CDT
Wed. May 12 - Fargo @ Green Bay, 7:05 pm CDT
WHL Bantam Draft
The 2010 WHL Bantam Draft was held in Edmonton yesterday, at the Fantasyland Hotel - we're not making that up, but it's certainly appropriate given that these are all '95 birthdates. A total of 237 kids were drafted, 17 of whom were listed as Americans, though the first two U.S. players drafted are dual citizens.
Eric Comrie, a 5'11", 175 lb. goaltender from the LA Selects midget minors, was the top American taken, with Tri-City GM Bob Tory making a deal to move up six slots and grab him. (When Eric's half-brother, Mike Comrie, left the University of Michigan after his sophomore season ended in 2000, Tory was the GM at Kootenay, so there's family history there. Eric, Mike, and Paul Comrie are all children of Bill Comrie, who has amassed a fortune through his ownership of The Brick Stores, a hugely successful chain of furniture and appliance stores spread across Canada. Comrie also formerly co-owned the Long Beach Ice Dogs.)
The second American taken was another goalie, Brendan Burke, who plays for PF Chang's midget minors and is the son of longtime NHL goaltender Sean Burke, currently the Phoenix Coyotes' goalie coach.
As is always the case, a number of Americans were drafted low because of players' NCAA interest. Certainly, 6'2" Apple Valley forward Hudson Fasching could have gone in the first round. Ditto for LA Selects teammates Brian Williams and Savage.
Here's the list:
13. Tri-City (from Vancouver), Eric Comrie, G, Newport Beach, CA/ LA Selects; 49. Portland (from Regina), Brendan Burke, G, Scottsdale, AZ/ PF Chang's; 112. Portland (from Edmonton), Connor Hutchins, C, North Richland Hills, TX/ Honeybaked; 144. Seattle (from Red Deer), Brad Lelievre, LW, Mill Creek, WA/ Seattle NW Admirals; 146. Medicine Hat, Damon Hanson, RW, Renton, WA/ Kent Valley; 156. Edmonton, Griffin Foulk, D, Broomfield, CO/ Colorado Thunderbirds; 163. Kelowna, Hudson Fasching, C, Burnsville, MN/ Apple Valley HS; 173. Tri-City, Brian Williams, C, Claremont, CA/ LA Selects; 176. Calgary, Keaton Thompson, D, Devil's Lake, ND/ Devils Lake HS; 183. Chilliwack, Taylor Crunk, San Jacinto, CA/ San Diego Jr. Gulls; 184. Vancouver (from Kamloops), Scott Savage, D, San Clemente, CA/ LA Selects; 190. Medicine Hat, Paige Maul, C, Missoula, MT/ Missoula Bruins; 192. Portland, Chase Deleo, C, La Mirada, CA/ LA Selects; 193. Spokane (reacquired from Kamloops), Jakob Romo, C, Fullerton, CA/ CA Stars; 203. Regina (reacquired from Kamloops), Alex McCrea, D, El Cajon, CA/ San Diego Jr. Gulls; 223. Lethbridge, Daniel Sosa, D, Puyallup, WA/ Seattle NW Admirals; 239. Tri-City, Andrew Ogelvie, C, Fullerton, CA/ LA Selects.
(Remember, any of these players can leave their minor hockey team next season and play up to five games with the WHL team that drafted them, and then get put on the regular roster the following season. Kelowna's Shane McColgan, a Manhattan Beach, California resident, did this a couple years ago. It's a convenient way for major junior teams to cook a kid's NCAA eligibility when he's still just 15-16 years old.)
Dubuque Gearing Up for Return to USHL
At the end of the 2000-01 season, the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints closed up shop after 21 seasons in the city, moved to Tulsa - and died. Now, though, they're back, but everything has changed - except the name.
You may have seen our article (USHR News, 11/21/09) detailing the franchise's ownership group, which is headed up by former Harvard forward and hedge fund king Phil Falcone, and includes fellow Crimson teammates Brad Kwong and Peter Chiarelli. It is indeed a deep-pocketed group.
The team will be playing in a new arena, as Dubuque's spiffy new 3,200-seat Mystique Ice Center, named after a local casino which threw in a million dollars toward the construction, is expected to be completed in August.
The city, on the border of Wisconsin and Illinois, is perhaps Iowa's prettiest. Hillier and more wooded than the rest of the state, it sits on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi and, from a historical/architectural point of view, Dubuque lords it over the rest of Iowa.
As we've also written, the Fighting Saints head coach will be former University of Maine star Jim Montgomery, a Montreal, Quebec native who captained the Black Bears' 1993 NCAA championship team that went 42-1-2. Montgomery, who scored 301 points in his college career, then went on to spend parts of six seasons in the NHL, as well as playing minor pro and in Europe. For the last four seasons, he's served as Seth Appert's assistant at RPI.
Joe Coombs, 34, will be team's associate head coach. Coombs, 34, has been the head coach of the Dubuque Thunderbirds (CSHL) over the last five seasons.
Bobby Kinsella, 35, who spent five years with Sioux City (USHL) as a scout and then as an assistant, has spent the past two years building the Boston Rangers Midget AAA franchise from scratch and gaining experience as a head coach. Kinsella, who has a sharp eye, also scouted for the New York Islanders.
The Fighting Saints have signed their first three tenders, all defensemen, in Joakim Ryan, Derek Docken, and Luke Curadi.
"We wanted to start building our team around our D corps and we wanted guys who could all skate," Montgomery says.
-- Ryan, a 5'11", 170 lb. '93, is a Cornell recruit who played last winter for Christian Brothers Academy in New Jersey and also joined Sweden's National Under-17 Team for the World Hockey Challenge over the holidays. "He's a two-way D whose biggest strengths are his mind and his vision," says Montgomery. "He's a power play guy with that ability to thread the needle. He's so poised. He has ice in his veins. And he makes the players around him better."
-- Docken, a 5'11", 190 lb. 6/12/90 birthdate played his high school hockey for Northfield (Minn.) High School, where he flew under the radar. He played juniors last season for Albert Lea (NAHL), made a name for himself, and committed to Alaska-Anchorage. There are those who feel that Docken would have been the #1 pick in the upcoming USHL draft had Dubuque not grabbed him as a tender. "He's a shut-down, puck-moving D who can skate and keeps the game simple," says Montgomery. "He's very poised, and makes excellent tape-to-tape passes. He was flattered that Alaska-Anchorage offered him a scholarship. He's a humble kid from a humble family."
-- Curadi, a 6'5", 250 lb. LD is a player Montgomery is very familiar with, having recruited him to RPI this past winter. "I saw him with the Hartford Jr. Wolfpack (two years ago) and then with Penticton (this past winter) and the steps he has made are impressive. He had the skating, the shot, and the size already, but defensively he's really put it all together, particularly learning how to transition the puck. He's very physical and could be an impact guy at the college level, and also next year in the USHL."
Montgomery says that, now that he's signed three d-men, "We're on to the forwards next."
Dubuque has a total of seven tenders - so they have four more players to scoop up before the drafts in a couple of weeks.
First up is the expansion draft for both Dubuque and Muskegon. That's scheduled for Mon. May 17th. The Futures Draft follows on Tues. May 18th, and things wind up with the regular draft on Wed. May. 19th.
Maine's Second Goalie Recruit
Maine has a second goaltender coming in this fall, as 6'2", 185 lb. Dan Sullivan of the Texas Tornado (NAHL) has committed to the Black Bears.
Sullivan joins KUA's Martin Oullette as the two freshman coming in.
Sullivan, already 21 - he's a 1/24/89 birthdate - is from York, PA and played for the Marquette Rangers (NAHL) in ‘08-09, posting a 2.61 gaa and .905 save percentage in 19 games. This season with Texas, he appeared in 51 games and had a 3.08 gaa and .912 save percentage. In five playoff games, Sullivan posted a 1.65 gaa and a .949 save percentage.
Texas GM/head coach Tony Curtale compares Sullivan favorably with other goalies he's had in the past such as former Maine goalie Ben Bishop, Cornell's Dave McKee, and Michigan's Al Montoya.
Sullivan also played four games with the Omaha Lancers in '08-09. In '07-08, he played ten games with NY Apple Core (EJHL).
Sullivan's father, one of 15 children (think about that one!), is a doctor who specializes in head injuries.
Prep Coaching News
After 23 years as varsity hockey coach at Trinity-Pawling, Brian Foster, who also serves as the school's athletic director, will be stepping down as head coach. He'll still be on the scene, though, as he will stay on as assistant coach.
This move has been in the works for a couple years, as Foster has been grooming his replacement, Rob Hutchison, who spent a post-grad year at Trinity-Pawling in '02-03 before going on to Skidmore, where he was captain of the hockey and baseball team. Hutchison, who also teaches math, has been an assistant for Foster for the last three seasons.
Ed Harding, most recently head coach of the Lewiston Maineiacs (QMJHL), has been named the new head coach - as well as director of the hockey program -- at North Yarmouth Academy.
Harding, who played at the University of Southern Maine in the late ‘80s, went on to play for the Johnstown Chiefs (ECHL) for a season. He then went into coaching, becoming the head coach of Greely High School from '89-93, the Flagstaff Mountaineers (WSJHL) from '96-98, and the Tulsa Crude (USHL) from '01-02. He started out in Lewiston as an assistant in '03 before being named head coach in 2007, a position he held for a season and a half.
Allie Skelley, a former Phillips Exeter and St. Lawrence forward, has been elevated from assistant to head coach at the Holderness School.
Skelley, who is 30, has been at Holderness for six years. He replaces Frank Cirone, the coach for the last four years.
We expect Thayer should be naming a coach any day now. Their aim was to have someone in place by the end of the month. They had quite a few applications - over a hundred, we're told.
Team Maryland = UNH Pipeline
6'1", 180 lb. Team Maryland Midget AAA forward Maxim Gaudreault has committed to the University of New Hampshire for the fall of '12 (possibly '11).
A 7/16/92 birthdate from Annapolis, Maryland, Gaudreault is the third player from Team Maryland to commit to UNH in a little over a year. He, along with Nick Sorkin ('10) and Casey Thrush ('11 or '12), will overlap in college, which just might be the first time three Marylanders appear on the same NCAA Div. I hockey squad.
A left shot who can play either wing or center, Gaudreault is described by his coach, Jason Kersner, as "our most complete player."
"He has a great sense of the game," Kersner says. "His hockey IQ is outstanding. He's strong on the power play, penalty kill, really responsible defensively, and very competitive. He's a strong kid who wins a lot of fights for pucks."
"He's mentally tough, and composed," Kersner adds. "The bigger the game, the better he plays."
Gaudreault, in 74 games for Team Maryland this season (regular season and playoffs combined), posted a 44-74-118 line with 50 pims and a +46.
A senior in high school, Gaudreault is unsure where he will play next year, but it will likely be in the EJHL or the USHL. He's going to wait until after the USHL draft before making his decision.
Gaudreault made his final pick from between UNH and Providence College.
Osiecki to Be Named Ohio State Coach
It's been confirmed -- Wisconsin assistant Mark Osiecki has been named the new head coach at Ohio State.
The three finalists were Osiecki, Boston College associate head coach Mike Cavanaugh, and Denver head coach George Gwozdecky. We're getting two different reports on Gwozdecky's not being hired, one indicating his price tag was too high -- even for OSU -- and the other saying that he slept on it, and decided to stick with Denver. More likely, it was some combination of the two. And, of course, there could well be reasons we may never know of.
At any rate, it's Osiecki's job. Look for an official announcement sometime during the coming week.
Gwozdecky the Man for the Buckeyes?
We have never believed for one second that Denver University head coach George Gwozdecky is any kind of "advisor" in the search for John Markell's replacement as head coach at Ohio State.
Quite the contrary. Gwozdecky is a candidate, a very strong candidate, and could be named head coach as early as Monday.
Gwozdecky was in Columbus, Ohio on Wednesday and it appears that he may have been allowed to sidestep being interviewed by some of - if not all of - the hiring committee that the other candidates met with, and may have just met one-on-one with Ohio State AD Gene Smith.
Gwozdecky, who signed a 12-year deal with Denver in 2001 and is under contract through 2013-14, has a reported 10-year buyout that any school hiring him would have to pay out. The key point here is that Gwozdecky has not been particularly happy with the Denver athletics administration, which three years ago went out and hired former Princeton basketball coach Joe Scott to head up the Pioneers' hoops program - and handed him a heftier contract than Gwozdecky's. At many schools this would not be a big deal, but Denver is not a basketball school, not even close to it. The Pioneers' wintertime success has come on the ice. Denver, though, didn't sweeten the pot for Gwozdecky after signing Scott, a point that was not lost on the Thunder Bay, Ontario native, who had to have felt slighted. So there's reportedly tension there. How much is hard to say, but it's there.
With that in mind, would Gwozdecky go all the way to Columbus, Ohio and interview for the Ohio State job simply as leverage, to squeeze a few bucks from the DU athletic department? It's certainly possible, but no one really feels that is Gwozdecky's style. In 1999, for example, Mark Mazzoleni left Miami for Harvard, and Miami wanted to bring Gwozdecky, who had coached there from '89-94, back for a second tour of duty, but Gwozdecky turned down Miami's request for an interview, saying he was happy at Denver thank you very much. (He instead recommended 27-year-old Rico Blasi, an assistant on his staff at Denver and a former player of his at Miami.)
We feel that Gwozdecky may see the Ohio State job as a unique challenge. There's also a nice convergence in play here because Ohio State is one of a limited number of schools that can top what Gwozdecky is getting at Denver -- plus pay the buyout on top of that. As a matter of fact, that buyout would probably be a blip on the OSU athletic budget. Remember, this is a school for which athletics is a total cash cow. The athletic department reportedly has revenues of $115 million annually. Football alone makes $45 million. Tomorrow, a crowd of 90,000 is expected for OSU's spring football game - think about that for a second.
In summation, we have a hunch that if Gwozdecky's visit satisfied him, and he and the Ohio State athletic administrators can agree to terms, that this will be a done deal.
And if it isn't? Well, then it will go to either Mike Cavanaugh, who interviewed on Thursday; or Mark Osiecki, who interviewed today.
Both are great candidates. Ohio State clearly wants to win, and those two have strong track records. With Cavanaugh as associate head coach on Jerry York's staff, Boston College has won two NCAA titles in the last three years, to give them three in this decade ('01,'08,'10). Even more remarkable, especially in this era, is the fact that BC has reached the NCAA championship game seven times in the last 13 years. But you can even go further: the Eagles have a couple of third-place finishes, too, so BC has played in the Frozen Four nine times in the last 13 years. Cavanaugh has been there for all of them. Clearly, Ohio State hockey recognizes that Boston College holds the formula they are seeking, and that Cavanaugh has proven that he knows how to assemble championship college hockey teams.
Osiecki, a six-year assistant under Mike Eaves at Wisconsin, is no stranger to winning either. As a player, he won an NCAA championship as a defenseman on the Badgers' 1989-90 squad. After playing pro hockey for six years, he went into coaching as an assistant at North Dakota, winning an NCAA title right off the bat. Osiecki then went to the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers as GM/head coach for seven years, winning four straight division championships, and a Clark Cup in 2000. Since joining the Badgers six years ago, Osiecki has been an assistant on the '06 team, which beat BC in the NCAA title game, and on this year's team, which lost to BC in the NCAA title game a couple of weeks ago.
We have a strong hunch that, if for some reason Gwozdecky is not named the next Ohio State coach, that the Buckeyes have two alternatives that their fans will be happy with.
And from all we've learned, Gwozdecky, Cavanaugh, and Osiecki are indeed the three finalists. We would be very surprised if someone came out of left field, though it has certainly happened before, most notably when Guy Gadowsky was hired at Princeton in 2004. However, we don't think it's going to happen this time.
U.S. Under-18s Top Sweden; Win Gold
Minsk, Belarus - Jack Campbell kicked out 33 shots to lead the U.S. to its second consecutive gold medal tonight at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship.
The US went up 1-0 just 2:10 into the first period when Luke Moffat tipped home a Derek Forbort point shot. The U.S. lead looked to be in jeopardy when Austin Watson was called for boarding and was handed a game misconduct at the 13:04 mark. But during the ensuing five-minute power play Sweden came up empty.
In the second, Nick Shore dug the puck out of the corner, and got it to Austin Czarnik, who spotted defenseman Justin Faulk, who snapped it past Swedish netminder Johan Gustafsson at the 7:31 mark. Rocco Grimaldi made it 3-0 on a redirection of an Adam Clendening shot at 13:47 of the second.
Sweden got their lone goal in the third, off the stick of Ludvig Rensfeldt.
Campbell won the directorate award as the tournament's top goaltender. Campbell and Clendening were named tournament all-stars by the media, and, along with Jason Zucker, were named Team USA's top three players. Clendening (3-7-10), Shore (3-7-10), and Grimaldi (2-8-10) each led the US team in scoring with ten points apiece.
Sweden outshot the US, 34-33. Sweden was the only team to beat the US here, topping them 4-2 in the first game of the tournament on April 13th, ten days ago.
Top Mass. High Schooler to Harvard
6'1", 190 lb. Winchester High School LW Mike Seward has committed to Harvard for the fall of '11.
A 3/12/92 birthdate, Seward helped lead Winchester to a berth in the Mass Super 8. In 23 games, he had a 25-25-50 line and made NHL Central Scouting's Final Ranking, at #208 overall. A two-time Middlesex League MVP and a two-time All-Scholastic, Seward had a strong showing in the New England Fall Prep League last fall, playing for the Under-19 Eagles and, after his high school season, had a strong showing at the Beantown Spring Classic last month.
Dartmouth and Brown were recruiting him as well. (Williams College was on him for a long time, too, but Seward's profile just kept rising.)
Seward will play next season for the Junior Bruins (EJHL). He could be a real sleeper. He's big, strong, and a powerful skater. Mike Boyle's gym (one of them) just happens to be in Winchester, and Boyle reports that Seward is really strong for his age and possibly the best athlete he has over there.
Mud's Grandson to the Catamounts
5'10", 180 lb. Shattuck St. Mary's senior right-shot defenseman Nick Bruneteau has committed to Vermont for this fall.
A 2/28/92 birthdate from Omaha, Nebraska, Bruneteau is an offensive d-man and led all Shatttuck blueliners with a 5-38-43 line this past season. He moves the puck, sees the ice very well, and keyed Shattuck's power play this season. It appeared he was going to play in the USHL next season, but instead he'll be heading right to UVM.
Nick is the younger brother of North Dakota freshman forward Brett Bruneteau, and the older brother of Matt Bruneteau, a defenseman who played this season for Shattuck's U-16 team.
He's also the grandson of Mud Bruneteau, who broke up the longest game in the history of the NHL when, on March 24, 1936, he scored at 16:30 of the sixth overtime to give the Detroit Red Wings a 1-0 win over the Montreal Maroons in the Stanley Cup playoffs. A Manitoba native, Bruneteau coached the minor league Omaha Knights when his NHL career ended, and that's where the family's connection to Omaha began.
Harvard Lands Another Top Recruit
6'4", 200 lb. Hotchkiss junior RW Petr Placek, a native of Rakovnik, Czech Republic, has committed to Harvard for the fall of '11.
A 12/28/92 birthdate, Placek has a lot of upside, and getting selected in the first couple rounds of the 2011 NHL Draft is a real possibility. He, along with Choate's Philippe Hudon, will be heavily scrutinized by NHL scouts next season.
Placek, who came to Hotchkiss as a sophomore - and we'll get to that story in a minute - made huge strides this past season as he grew into his body, gained agility, and learned to play a more physical game. A big, strong power forward who sees the ice well, Placek competes, makes plays, moves the puck well, and can finish.
During his sophomore season, Placek turned 16, and was heavy-footed, not uncommon for a kid of that size and age. In 23 games, he posted a 7-8-15 line. Right from the beginning of his junior season last fall, it was pretty obvious that Placek's skating and overall agility had taken a huge leap forward. In 24 games, he improved to 16-16-32. His 16 goals led the team.
His coach, Damon White, said Placek, "Made a quantum leap this past season. If he makes the same leap as a senior he could be a first round draft pick. His core strength is remarkable. He's not bulked up at all. He will probably be around 205-210 next year. He needs to be a little quicker all around. He's a strong skater with better hands than you might think. In traffic he made some really nice plays."
"He's a tremendous kid," White added. "A very mature boy, not a rah-rah type, just very focused. He will do whatever it takes to get himself ready for Harvard."
"I sometimes look at him and think, 'This kid will be running the world in twenty years.' I can see him as the prime minister of the Czech Republic or something. That's the kind of kid he is.'"
The schools recruiting Placek were Harvard, Cornell, Brown, Union, Quinnipiac, and St. Lawrence.
Placek found Hotchkiss on his own and wrote coach Damon White, expressing an interest in the school. He arrived as a sophomore, his true year. White figured that Placek, being from the Czech Republic, would probably need to come in as a repeat freshman, but Placek aced his SSATs, and his English is excellent.
"He landed in our lap," White said. "It was a hockey coach's fantasy."
Placek did have one connection to the U.S. -- an older sister who had taken a year abroad in the U.S, living and going to school in Dover, NH. Jim Siverts, the father in the family that hosted her, was able to talk to White during the admissions process. Siverts told White that Placek's sister was all-state in volleyball and an excellent skier. "If Petr is the same kind of athlete as his sister, you'll really have something," Siverts told White.
Placek joins 6'2" Milton defenseman Pat McNally as a strong NHL prospect entering Harvard in the fall of '11.
In other Hotchkiss news, 6'2", 170 lbs. goaltender Jay Williams, who had a disappointing sophomore season (.890 save percentage, dropping from .927 as a freshman) is leaving prep school for the USHL. Williams, a 6/7/93 birthdate from MacLean, Virginia and a Miami recruit, was Waterloo's third overall pick in last May's USHL Futures Draft.
What's Happening at Eaglebrook?
No one is saying anything officially, but it appears that Eaglebrook School head coach Jeff Quebec has been relieved of his duties after 16 years behind the bench.
It also appears, at least for now, that Quebec, while he won't be coaching, will remain at the school as a teacher and director of hockey operations.
We have emailed and called Quebec for comment, but have not heard back.
However, Eaglebrook's AD, Rachel Horn, did return our call, but, in a rather odd and inconclusive interview, would neither confirm nor deny that Quebec was fired.
After stressing that she was more concerned with lacrosse at the moment, Horn allowed that, "(Quebec) remains director of the hockey operation."
"We are simply making some changes to the program as a whole," she added.
Asked what those changes might entail, Horn wouldn't say.
We asked if she could tell us who would be coaching the hockey team next season. "No," she said, "because I'm not worried about next season."
Trying another tack, we asked if there was currently a search for a head coach underway.
"No," she said. "I am not searching for a head coach -- and it's not on my docket at all right now."
Strange conversation. Whatever is happening at Eaglebrook, things appear to be in a state of flux. We do know of at least one Eaglebrook player who is transferring to another school because of the uncertainty. Perhaps there are others.
Eaglebrook is a pre-prep boarding school in Deerfield, Mass. Players that have come through the program in recent years include Zack Phillips (Saint John Sea Dogs - QMHJL ), Jake Goldberg (Berkshire School), Chris McCarthy (Berkshire School/UVM), Jerry Pollastrone (Salisbury School/UNH), and Kevin Kapstad (Governor Dummer/UNH). Eaglebrook has a beautiful rink, built on a hillside on campus in the late ‘90s, and hosts a well-regarded tournament every February.
Harvard Goes for Speed
5'9", 155 lb. Choate junior forward Kyle Criscuolo has committed to Harvard for either '11 or '12.
A 5/5/92 birthdate from Southampton, NJ, Criscuolo played for Team Comcast (with UNH recruits Kyle Smith and Jamie Hill, and Dartmouth recruit Eric Neiley) before going to Choate last fall. Criscuolo is a great skater who creates opportunities with breakaway speed and quickness. He's slight of build, and that's something he will have to work hard on before going to college.
A number of schools were recruiting Criscuolo, but in the end it came down to Harvard and Yale.
Criscuolo, along with fellow Wild Boars Danny Linell (also a Harvard recruit) and Alex Hagen, played with the NY Bobcats at the Tier III Junior Nationals in Marlborough, Mass. a couple weeks ago.
Criscuolo, in 28 games for Choate this season, had a 19-22-41 line, putting him in a tie with Hagen for team lead. He was on fire in the playoffs, figuring in ten of his team's 19 goals over the three games. In the title-game-for-large-schools-that-didn't-make-the-Elite-8-tournament, Criscuolo put on a show, scoring three goals and assisting on two others in an 8-4 win over Berkshire.
Pat Dennehy, his coach at Choate, says Criscuolo "flew under the radar a bit early in the season." In addition to the obvious - his speed - Dennehy says that Criscuolo is a "smart kid who picks things up really quickly. His hockey IQ is tremendous."
Dennehy, by the way, recently had hip replacement surgery - at 36. All that power play time at St. Lawrence must have just wore it out. For now, he's bombing around Choate's Wallingford, Conn. campus in a golf cart. Give him plenty of room to pass.
John McInnis, who played two years at Lawrence Academy, graduating in '08, has committed to Mankato State (WCHA) for this fall.
McInnis, a 5/8/89 birthdate, has played the past two seasons in Alberta for the Okotoks Oilers (AJHL).
The 6'1", 185 lb. center from Plymouth, Mass., who will be 21 next month, had a 42-31-73 line in 58 games for Okotoks, which, in case you've never made it up there, is about 30 miles due south of Calgary. The town's name is a Blackfoot First Nation word for rock, and indeed there are a couple of humongous glacial rocks outside of town -- each much larger than Plymouth Rock. Just thought you rock fans might want to know that.
Under-18s Rebound vs. Switzerland
Bobruisk, Belarus -- The U.S. Under-18 Team, upended by Sweden in their opener at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship here yesterday, bounced back today with a 5-1 win over Switzerland.
After Switzerland took a 1-0 lead on a Gregory Hofmann even-strength goal at 11:58 of the first period - a period in which the U.S. gave their opponents five power plays - Austin Czarnik came to the rescue, banging home the rebound of his own shot to tie up the game just 27 seconds later.
In the second, Czarnik struck again, firing home a rebound of an Adam Clendening shot at the 4:04 mark to make it 2-1. U.S. goaltender Jack Campbell also picked up an assist on the goal, as he started the play out by moving it up to Clendening. The U.S would go up 3-1 on a Billy Arnold goal with 14 seconds left in the period. Clendening and Jason Zucker scored in the third for the 5-1 margin of victory.
The US outshot Switzerland, 29-23.
In other action today, Russia trounced Latvia, 9-0.
Tues. April 13 -- Sweden 4, US 2
Wed. April 14 -- US 5, Switzerland 1
Fri. April 16 -- US vs. Canada
Sun. April 18 -- US vs. Belarus
Tues. April 20 -- Quarterfinals
Wed. April 21 -- Semifinals
Fri. April 23 -- Bronze and Gold Medal Games
The Good Life
Here's some trivia to mull over while doing your taxes. After getting chosen in the first round of last June's NHL Draft, Boston College forward Chris Kreider had a pretty memorable freshman season.
-- A Gold Medal at the World Junior Championship
-- A Beanpot Title
-- A Hockey East Championship
-- An NCAA Championship
(Plus, for good measure, the Boxford, Mass. resident played in the outdoor game at Fenway, but BC lost that one.)
The only player who we know of who came close to this is Denver's Matt Carle (now with the Philadelphia Flyers) who, in 2004, won a World Junior gold medal and an NCAA championship. However, Denver lost in the first round of the WCHA playoffs that year. (And, of course, the Pioneers do not play in the Beanpot.)
New Divisional Alignment for USHL
The USHL Board of Governors has to vote on and approve this proposal at their spring meetings, but it looks pretty certain that the league, with the addition of Dubuque and Muskegon, will have a new alignment when the fall comes, and that it will look like this:
You will notice that, for the upcoming season, the West will have six teams, while the Central and East will each have five. In 2011-12, two more teams will be added, bringing the total to 18, with six per division. Though it's a topic for another day, we think that's too many, and that the USHL will have to allow more imports -- in part to counteract the fact that 117 US kids played major junior this season -- and make some other significant changes in order to avoid a watered-down product.
(At present the league is split into two seven-team divisions - East and West. The East has Green Bay, Cedar Rapids, Indiana, Waterloo, Chicago, the NTDP, and Youngstown. The West has Omaha, Fargo, Sioux Falls, Tri-City, Sioux City, Des Moines, and Lincoln. )
Johnson Replaces McGroarty at Lincoln
Chad Johnson, an assistant coach on the staff of his brother Steve at Fargo (USHL) this past season (as well as for three years at Lincoln), has been named the new head coach of the Lincoln Stars (USHL).
Johnson will replace Jimmy McGroarty at Lincoln, whose team took a bad tumble this season, going from having the second-best record in the league in '08-09 (37-17-6) to the worst this season (16-36-8). McGroarty, however, will stay on at Lincoln as an associate head coach under Johnson --- it will be interesting to see how that works out. Assistant Nick Fouts is also being reported as staying on.
This was Chad's second year as an assistant at Fargo. The former forward at the University of North Dakota was also on Dean Blais's staff during Fargo's inaugural campaign of 2008-09.
The younger Johnson, 40, has also had head coaching experience, having spent four years behind the bench for the Bismarck Bobcats (NAHL).
In case you missed it, here, in addition to the above, is the USHL head coaching recap for '10-11. First off, the two new teams. Wisconsin assistant Kevin Patrick will be the head coach/GM at Muskegon. And RPI assistant Jim Montgomery will be head coach at Dubuque, with Bobby Kinsella as an assistant. Curtis Carr has been upgraded from interim status at Youngstown. He is now the official head coach/GM for the Phantoms. Indiana's head coach/GM Jeff Blashill has taken the head coaching position at Western Michigan University, so the Indiana post is open.
In the first round of the USHL playoffs, three of the four series were lacking in suspense, with Green Bay sweeping Waterloo. Omaha sweeping Tri-City, and Fargo sweeping Sioux Falls. Only one of the four first round series is ongoing, and in that one Cedar Rapids leads Indiana, 2-1, with the fourth game tonight in Indiana. If Indiana wins, it sets up a series-deciding fifth game back in Cedar Rapids Wednesday night. So there may be some suspense after all.
Falcons Hire Bergeron
Miami 10-year assistant Chris Bergeron has been hired as the new head hockey coach at Bowling Green, and will be introduced at a press conference this afternoon.
An Ontario native, Bergeron, 39, was a forward and two-year captain at Miami, graduating in 1993 before going on to play seven years of minor pro hockey, then returning to his alma mater as an assistant.
At Bowling Green, a program that was on the verge of elimination a couple of years ago, Bergeron will be replacing Dennis Williams, who had been hired on an interim basis after Scott Paluch stepped down last summer and joined USA Hockey's ADM program.
Bowling Green, which was 5-25-6 this season, hasn't had a winning season since 1996-97. That's 13 years.
In 1984 Bowling Green, coached by Jerry York, won the NCAA championship, beating Minnesota-Duluth, 5-4, on a Gino Cavallini goal at 7:11 of the fourth overtime.
Recruits Can Be Free Agents, Too
New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) defenseman Brice O'Connor has decommitted from Providence College and will instead be going to the University of Maine this fall.
O'Connor, a '90 birthdate from Londonderry, NH, has an older brother, Ian, who is a junior forward at Providence.
Reportedly, the younger O'Connor reneged because he wanted more in scholarship dollars, and the Friars didn't have it to give. O'Connor then asked the Friars for a chance to consider his options, which was granted. After securing himself a couple of other offers, the 5'11", 185 lb. blueliner chose the Black Bears. O'Connor will be in Orono in the fall.
O'Connor, in 44 games this season with the Monarchs, posted a 6-28-34 line with 119 penalty minutes (the second most in the league, by the way, trailing only Cap District's Lester Brown, who had 163 pims - and six points -- in just 25 games).
Ouellette Commits; Accelerates
6'1", 160 lb. Kimball Union goaltender Martin Ouellette, a junior who helped lead his school to the small school championship this winter, will be heading to the University of Maine this fall.
Ouellette chose Maine over Clarkson, who also wanted him for this fall; and Vermont, who wanted him for the fall of '11.
A 12/30/91 birthdate, Ouellette, ranked #13 on Central's final ranking of domestic goaltenders released yesterday, has enough credits to graduate with his classmates at Kimball Union in June, and will do just that. He barely spoke English when he arrived at Kimball Union; now he has a 3.4 GPA.
Kimball Union found Ouellette, a native of St. Hippolyte, Quebec, at the Road to College Showcase in Montreal, an annual event held every November. He was playing for the Selects du Nord Midget Espoir at the time.
At KUA this season, his second at the school, Ouellette posted a .925 save percentage in 27 games played. He's fundamentally sound, has good size, competes hard and exhibits calm and poise. A late developer physically, he's working on gaining strength.
Maine, which has goaltending issues stemming from the uncertainty surrounding sophomore Scott Darling and his future -- or lack thereof -- in the program, is also looking to bring in a second goaltender this fall.
Top NCAA Goalie Prospect Goes Major Junior
In a hit for college hockey, 6'2", 185 lb. Youngstown (USHL) goalie Matt Mahalak, who had been heavily recruited by both Harvard and Michigan, has gone major junior, signing today with the Plymouth Whalers (OHL).
Despite Mahalak being a top-flight student, the Whalers always loomed as a distinct possibility, if not the favorite. The Whalers drafted the 1/22/93 birthdate, a native of Monroe, Michigan, in the second round of last spring's OHL draft. In addition, The goalie's older brother, RJ Mahalak, is a veteran forward with the Whalers.
In 31 games at Youngstown, which finished the regular season in last place in the USHL's East Division, Mahalak posted a 4.24 gaa and an .868 save percentage. While those numbers are not exactly eye-popping, keep in mind that Mahalak was the youngest goalie in the league, plus he was playing on an expansion team that struggled all year.
Harvard had been recruiting Mahalak hard since last year, when the goaltender was at Culver Military Academy. Michigan upped their efforts to get Mahalak when, in November, U.S. Under-18 star goaltender Jack Campbell reneged on his commitment to the Wolverines, choosing instead to go major junior next season with the Windsor Spitfires (OHL).
By the way, Windsor just swept Plymouth in the second round of the OHL playoffs, four games to none. Tonight's win came in OT, a 3-2 victory. Windsor outshot Plymouth 73-21. The Spitfires had a 27-3 edge in shots in the third period alone. Plymouth goalie Scott Wedgewood, the #19-ranked goalie in Central's final rankings released yesterday, was the hard-luck loser, kicking out 70 of 73 shots.
The 2010 USA Hockey Nationals are underway in Chicago and other venues. The link for rosters, standings, scores, and stats can be found below.
At this year's Nationals, college recruiters are conspicuous by their absence. USA Hockey's tournament scheduler apparently forgot that this was the week of the NCAA Frozen Four, which is a dead period when it comes to recruiting, i.e. no college coaches can be in the rinks. Of course, major junior coaches have no such restrictions, and are happily preparing for their upcoming drafts.
Central's Final Rankings, U.S. Version
Central Scouting has released their Final Rankings, and Windsor Spitfires (OHL) defenseman Cam Fowler is - as he was in the mid-term ranking - the highest-ranked American. For the full list of Americans - there are 87 skaters and nine goalies - please see below.
Fowler, who spurned Notre Dame for the O, was at #3 among North American skaters in January's mid-term rankings. He has now dropped to #5. At the top of the pile, Windsor forward Taylor Hall, #1 in January, has flip-flopped with Plymouth forward Tyler Seguin, who is the new #1. Windsor and Plymouth are currently facing off against each other in the second round of the OHL playoffs, and the Spitfires lead the best-of-seven series, 3-0. Scouts in Detroit for the NCAA Frozen Four will be crowding into game four of that series tonight as Plymouth tries to stave off elimination.
U.S. Players who've stock has gone up significantly include Milton Academy D Pat McNally (+44), London Knights F Jared Knight (+41), Woodbury High F Max Gaede (+40), Andover F Garnet Hathaway (+63), University of Wisconsin '91 D John Ramage (+56), and South Shore Kings '91 F Chris Wagner (+42).
Then there are players like 6'2" Matt White, who left the USHL after last season to return home and play midgets with the Pittsburgh Vipers. While he was left off the mid-term list, he came back on everyone's radar, was recruited by Vermont, and now appears on the list at #106. He's one of 15 players -- 11 forwards and four goaltenders -- who did not appear on the mid-term list
U.S. Skaters on Central's Final Rankings:
5. Cam Fowler, D, Windsor (OHL), #3 midterm, -2
8. Emerson Etem, F, Medicine Hat (WHL), #13 midterm, +5
9. Derek Forbort, D, US Under-18, #11 midterm, +2
13. Nick Bjugstad, F, Blaine, #12 midterm, -1
14. Austin Watson, F, Peterborough (OHL), #25 midterm, +11
18. Tyler Pitlick, F, Mankato St. (NCAA), #21 midterm, +3
21. Jon Merrill, D, US Under-18, #20 midterm, -1
24. Charlie Coyle, F, South Shore (EJHL), #19 midterm, -5
25. Brock Nelson, F, Warroad HS, #17 midterm, -8
26. Kevin Hayes, F, Nobles, #18 midterm, -8
32. Beau Bennett, F, Penticton (BCHL), #48 midterm, +16
35. Stephen Johns, D, US Under-18, #28 midterm, -7
36. Billy Arnold, F, US Under-18, #30 midterm, -6
37. Mark Alt, D, Cretin-Derham Hall, #37 midterm, even
38. Jarred Tinordi, D, US Under-18, #42 midterm, +4
40. Pat McNally, D, Milton Academy, #84 midterm, +44
47. Justin Holl, D, Minnetonka HS, #54 midterm, +7
49. Max Gardiner, F, Minnetonka, #36 midterm, -13
51. Jason Zucker, F, US Under-18, #55 midterm, +4
56. Justin Faulk, D, US Under-18, #40 midterm, -16
58. Connor Brickley, F, Des Moines, #49 midterm, -9
61. Andrew Yogan, F, Erie (OHL), #65 midterm, +4
63. Mike Pereira, F, Avon Old Farms, #77 midterm, +14
64. Brandon Archibald, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL), #58 midterm, -6
68. Jacob Fallon, F, Indiana (USHL), #50 midterm, -18
70. Kevin Gravel, D, Sioux City (USHL), #60 midterm, -10
72. Kenny Agostino, F, Delbarton, #79 midterm, +7
80. Bryan Rust, F, US Under-18, #76 midterm, -4
81. Jason Clark, F, Shattuck-St. Mary's, #73 midterm, -8
82. Jared Knight, F, London (OHL), #123 midterm, +41
83. Brendan Woods, F, Chicago (USHL), #52 midterm, -31
88. Taylor Aronson, D, Portland (WHL), #90 midterm, +2
89. Casey Thrush, F, Team Maryland Midget AAA, #97 midterm, +8
94. Aaron Harstad, D, Green Bay (USHL), #86 midterm, -8
95. Luke Moffatt, F, US Under-18, #75 midterm, -20
96. Phil Lane, F, Brampton (OHL), #124 midterm, +28
104. Max Gaede, F, Woodbury HS, #144 midterm, +40
106. *Matt White, F, Pittsburgh Viper Stars Midget AAA, N/R midterm
109. Caleb Herbert, F, Bloomington-Jefferson, #100 midterm, -9
110. Garnet Hathaway, F, Phillips Andover, #173 midterm, +63
112. Brian Ward, F, Governor's Academy, #91 midterm, -21
117. Cody Ferriero, F, Governor's Academy, #106 midterm, -11
118. Joe Faust, D, Bloomington-Jefferson, #109 midterm, -9
125. Luke Curadi, D, Penticton (BCHL), #113 midterm, -12
129. Tom O'Regan, F, St. Sebastian's, #148 midterm, +19
130. J.T. Barnett, D, Vancouver (WHL), #121 midterm, -9
131. John Ramage, D, University of Wisconsin (NCAA), #187 midterm, +56
134. Nick Mattson, D, Indiana (USHL), #95 midterm, -39
136. Chris Wagner, F, South Shore (EJHL), #178 midterm, + 42
138. Michael Parks, F, Cedar Rapids (USHL), #71 midterm, -67
139. Kevin Lind, D, Chicago (USHL), #32 midterm, -107
140. Logan Roe, D, Kent School, #103 midterm, -37
141. Brian Ferlin, F, Indiana (USHL), #122 midterm, -19
145. Brett Stern, D, Centennial, #136 midterm, -9
148. Jacob Rutt, D, NH Jr. Monarchs (EJHL), #209 midterm, +61
149. Eamonn McDermott, D, Fargo (USHL), #107 midterm, -42
150. *Mike Zalewski, F, Syracuse (EJHL), N/R midterm
152. Thane Heller, F, Junior Bruins (EJHL), #127 midterm, -25
153. Derek Deblois, F, Cedar Rapids (USHL), #170 midterm, +17
155. Brandon McNally, F, Belmont Hill, #192 midterm, +37
156. Austin Levi, D, Plymouth (OHL), #117 midterm, -39
158. Joe Rogalski, D, Sarnia (OHL), #142 midterm, -16
160. Myles McCauley, F, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL), #162 midterm, +2
162. Alex Lippincott, F, Fargo (USHL), #172 midterm, +10
165. *James Mullin, F, Shattuck-St. Mary's, N/R midterm
166. Christian Isackson, F, St. Thomas Academy, #112 midterm, -54
168. Andrew Huff, F, Traverse City (NAHL), #193 midterm, +25
169. Nick Sorkin, F, Waterloo (USHL), #130 midterm, -39
173. Eric Neiley, F, Phillips Exeter, #166 midterm, -7
175. Nick Luuko, D, The Gunnery, #150 midterm, -25
179. Ryan Daugherty, F, Omaha (USHL), #126 midterm, -53
181. Chris Crane, F, Green Bay (USHL), #196 midterm, +15
182. *Chris Casto, D, Hill-Murray, N/R midterm
187. *Tyson Fulton, F, Breck, N/R midterm
188. *Kyle Quick, D, Avon Old Farms, N/R midterm
192. *Michael Kantor, F, Saginaw (OHL), N/R midterm
196. *Brandon Underwood, D, Kamloops (WHL), N/R midterm
198. Garrett Hendrickson, F, Virginia HS, #185 midterm, -13
200. James Polk, F, Shattuck-St. Mary's, #147 midterm, -53
202. Patrick Brown, F, Cranbrook-Kingswood, #119 midterm, -83
204. Scott Wamsganz, F, Waterloo (USHL), #174 midterm, -30
205. Andrew Prochno, D, Minnetonka, #155 midterm, -50
206. Mike Reardon, D, Nobles, #140 midterm, -66
208. *Mike Seward, F, Winchester HS, N/R midterm
209. *Woody Hudson, F, Milton Academy, N/R midterm
210. *T.J. Tynan, Des Moines (USHL), N/R midterm
LV --- Charles Orzetti, F, NJ Hitmen (EJHL), #211 midterm,
(LV stands for limited viewing: Orzetti missed the entire season.)
Elliott Bostrom, D, Taft, #105 midterm
Kevin Clare, D, US Under-18, #132 midterm
Jared Wiedemann, D, Dexter, #161 midterm
J.P. LaFontaine, F, Shattuck-St. Mary's, #165 midterm
Peter McIntyre, F, South Shore (EJHL), #186 midterm
Dan Linell, F, Choate, #197 midterm
Adam Krause, F, Hermantown HS, #199 midterm
Ben Marshall, D, Mahtomedi HS, #201 midterm
Rudy Sulmonte, F, NJ Rockets (AJHL), #202 midterm
John Caldwell, F/D, Belmont Hill, #204 midterm
Nick Czinder, F, Youngstown (USHL), #207 midterm
U.S. Goaltenders on Central's Final Rankings:
2. Jack Campbell, US Under18, #2 midterm, even
6. Zane Gothberg, Thief River Falls, #5 midterm, -1
11. Michael Houser, London (OHL), #18 midterm, +7
16. *Mac Carruth, Portland (WHL), N/R midterm
17. Clay Witt, Sioux Falls (USHL), #19 midterm, +2
20. Willie Yanakeff, Sioux City (USHL), #12 midterm, -8
24. *Jeff Teglia, Omaha (USHL), N/R midterm
26. *Parker Milner, Boston College (NCAA), N/R midterm
30. *Matt Skoff, Sioux City (USHL), N/R midterm
Brian Billett, NH Jr. Monarchs (EJHL), #25 midterm
Jacob Meyers, Benilde-St. Margaret's, #31 midterm
For printable PDF files click here:
NHL Central Scouting Mid-Term Rankings (Skaters) PDF File -- 4/7/10
NHL Central Scouting Mid-Term Rankings (Goalies) PDF File -- 4/7/10
Puck Moving D-man for Golden Knights
5'11", 180 lb. Luke Juha, an offensive defenseman from the Burlington Cougars (CCHL), has committed to Clarkson for the fall of '11.
Juha, who also had interest from St. Lawrence, Harvard, Princeton, and Notre Dame, is a 2/3/93 birthdate from Mississauga, Ontario, so he'll be entering Clarkson as a true freshman.
A fifth round draft pick of the Guelph Storm last spring, Juha played for the Toronto Marlies minor midget team that won the GTHL championship in '08-09.
This year, as a rookie with the Cougars, Juha posted a 6-25-31 line in 29 games. On a points-per-game basis, that led the league's rookie blueliners. He missed a big chunk of the regular season due to a broken thumb, which was followed in the playoffs by an injured shoulder.
Juha, a smooth-skating, puck-moving d-man who thinks the game well, will likely be running Clarkson's power play not too far down the line. For now, he'll be representing Ontario in the Three Nations Tournament in Sweden later this month.
Rivers' Flemming Steps Down
Rivers School head coach Brendan Flemming has stepped down and will not be returning to coach at the school next season.
Reportedly, Flemming wanted more resources for hockey than the school was willing to give.
Blashill Hired at Western Michigan
Western Michigan University has hired Indiana Ice (USHL) head coach Jeff Blashill as its new head coach.
Blashill, 36, was named tonight. He replaces Jim Culhane, who was fired in late February after 12 years behind the bench. The other finalist for the job was Colorado College assistant Joe Bonnett.
A Sault Ste. Marie, Mich native, Blashill was a goaltender for the Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL) in the early ‘90s before going on to play four years at Ferris State. After his playing career ended, he stayed on at Ferris as an assistant for four years, earning a reputation as a tireless recruiter. In 2002 he moved on to Miami and joined Rico Blasi's staff. There, for six seasons, Blashill was the top recruiter and played a key role in making Miami the powerhouse program it is today. Miami rarely got the "name" recruits but somehow were greater than the sum of its parts, as their yearly record proves. When the Indiana Ice head coach/GM position opened up two years ago, Blashill took it, and in his first year won the Clark Cup. Tomorrow night, in Cedar Rapids, the Ice will begin their defense of that title.
And, after that, Blashill will take over the Broncos.
2010 NTDP Evaluation Camp Recap (‘94s)
On a pure talent level, last week's NTDP Evaluation Camp ('94 birthdates) in Ann Arbor was good, though not great. While a half-dozen guys were a cut above the rest, no one was eye-popping the way Robbie Schremp, Phil Kessel, or Jack Johnson were at past camps. Of course, there may well have been a lights-out player sitting home uninvited. It happened with Patrick Kane. He was not among the '88s summoned to the Ice Cube for the March 2004 camp, but has turned out to be a pretty fair player.
That said, among this year's forwards, A.J. Michaelson of Apple Valley (Minn.) High School was our pick to click, the guy we most clearly see going in the first round of the 2012 NHL draft. We should also point out that there were some pretty fair prospects who were injured and unable to play at the camp.
On D, the pickings were better, with three players - Nick Ebert , Jacob Trouba, and Brady Skjeil (pronounced "Shea") - looking like sure-fire big-timers. Seth Jones has a lot of hoopla surrounding him, but we're not 100% convinced yet. But he could easily make a fourth U.S. kid who could go high in the 2012 draft. There were also a couple of smaller D - Connor Carrick and Dakota Mermis -- who were excellent.
As a group, the goaltenders did not stand out.
What follows, then, is a very rough ranking. How players actually played at camp and their eventual upside were both taken into account and weighted accordingly. Michaelson, Ebert, Trouba, and Shea were the four players who were not only extremely good at the camp, but also have high upside. They were the brightest stars of the weekend.
A.J. Michaelson, 6-0 (Apple Valley, Minn. / Apple Valley H.S.) - Electric wheels -- can really fly. Has size and high-end skills. Great release to his shot. Can play physically. Plays a totally nuanced game, very well rounded. Best forward here by far. Word is that it may be difficult to get him to leave Minnesota for Ann Arbor.
Thomas Di Pauli, 5-9/169 (Woodridge, Ill. / Chicago Mission Midget Minor) - Can really shoot the puck. Plays with energy in all three zones. Great in tight areas. Good overall skill set. Loves high tempo. Offered spot on team.
Stephane Matteau, 6-0½/195 (Chicago, Ill. / Notre Dame (Sask.) Hounds) - Son of former NHLer of same name. Strong power forward type with real determination and work ethic. Good size. Good hands. Very assertive with the puck - handles it well. Pro style game, very under control. Offered and will be coming. Had to leave a day early as he is a Hound and was playoff bound.
Nicolas Kerdiles, 6-0/179 (Lewisville, Texas /LA Selects Midget Minor) -- Showed flashes of his high-end skill, but didn't have a great camp. Didn't have to, as he was offered by the NTDP beforehand, and was committed.
Zach Stepan, 5-11/155 (Hastings, Minn. / Shattuck-St. Mary's U16) - Cousin of Derek Stepan. Similar to Derek at same age - skates the same way -- though a little less dynamic. Fast, skilled, but a little physically underdeveloped. Could develop into excellent player.
Cristoval "Boo" Nieves, 6-2/174 (Syracuse, N.Y. / Syracuse Stars Midget Minor) - Skill set is off the charts -- excellent size, graceful skater, dishes puck well. However, he didn't make a lot happen. Word is that the NTDP staff, while seeing the good, felt that Nieves lacked grit, and was too perimeter. Michigan recruit probably won't be offered a spot on team, at least off of his performance at camp.
Cody Payne, 6-1/193 (Weston, Fla. / Missassauga Reps Minor) - Big power forward type who struggled with tempo. A little blocky, heavy-footed, and lacking in agility. However, we think that will improve as he grows into his big body. He moves better than Tyler Biggs, who has had a successful first year in the NTDP. There's upside with Payne. He has good hands, a good release to his shot, and moves puck well. Like Nieves, he probably won't be offered a spot on team, at least off of his performance at camp.
Nate Arentz, 5-11/158 (Lakeville, Minn./ Lakeville North H.S) - Can really skate - quick and fast with pretty good puck skills. Smart player. Can make a play. Speed gives him a dimension. Has a good chance of making team.
Cam Darcy, 5-11½/175 (South Boston, Mass. / Dexter School) - Beat guys 1-on-1 for a couple of nice goals. Has size. Did everything well. Had a very strong camp. Committed to Northeastern.
Gavin Stoik 6-2/189 (Portland, Ore. / Colorado Thunderbirds Midget Minor) Big, rangy kid with good hands. Plays hard. Had a fight. Reportedly can play D, too. Interesting prospect. Would seem to have a good chance of making team.
Ray Pigozzi, 5-11/158 (Evanston, Ill. / Chicago Mission Midget Minor)-Quick stick, nice hands, skates well. Decent size. Didn't bring you out of your seat, but very noticeable.
Riley Barber, 5-10/179 (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Compuware Midget Minor) - Solid, plays with an edge, and has good overall skill. Scored goals. Has a good chance of making team.
A.J. Coleman, 5-10/165 (Moon Twp., Pa. / Pittsburgh Hornets Midget Minor) Small, shifty player. Good skater.
Matthew Lane, 5-8½/150 (Rochester, N.Y. / Missassauga Reps Minor) - Excellent skater, works hard, high energy type. Brother of Phil Lane (Brampton - OHL).
Vincent Hinostroza, 5-8½/144 (Melrose Park, Ill. / Chicago Mission Midget Minor) - Pure playmaker with good stick.
Ryan Hartman, 5-10/173 (West Dundee, Ill. / Chicago Mission Midget Minor) - Good, not great. Some liked him more than others. Was offered a spot on team.
Ryan Fitzgerald, 5-8/140 (North Reading, Mass. / Malden Catholic) - Played well. Second game was his best. Scored one big-time goal. Very smart player. At his size needs excellent foot speed - and he falls a little short there. BC recruit.
Luke Johnson, 5-9½/149 (Grand Forks, ND / Grand Forks Central HS) -- Really smart player with good hockey sense and strong overall skill. Sure-fire Div. I player but didn't really separate himself from pack here. Son of Steve Johnson, former North Dakota star forward and USHL coach.
Tyler Pham, 5-8/167 (Prairie Grove, Ill. / Team Illinois Midget Minor) - He's a small player who is physically strong. He can really scoot - nice low center of gravity. Great energy. But not a great producer here. Denver recruit.
Henrik Samuelsson, 6-2/204 (Pittsburgh, Pa. / P.F. Chang's Midget Major) - Another son of Ulf Samuelsson. Henrik is a monster who plays with an edge. He's physical, but lack of ability to gain body positioning in dirty areas rendered it a moot point at times. That can be learned, though. Has a hard but not accurate shot. What will hold him back the most is his skating - he has a long way to go. Still, with his bloodlines, his size, and his physical play, he could shoot up this list and become a serious prospect. It will just take time.
Gage Torrel, 5-9/158 (Monticello, Minn. / Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake H.S.) Everyone thought he was hard-working with good skills. After that there was a split of opinion. Some thought the pace was too much for him, while others thought he handled it just fine.
Sheldon Dries, 5-7/143 (Macomb, Mich. / Honeybaked Midget Minor) - Not dynamic enough for size.
Bradley Hawkinson, 5-10/169 (Aurora, Colo. / Colorado Thunderbirds Midget Minor) Solid two-way honest player. A 9/94 birthdate, so a little behind.
Five players on the original list of 26 forwards did not play. They are:
-- Nickolas Olsson (Escondido, Calif. / LA Selects Midget Minor) -- Offered, and committed, before start of camp. Was injured.
-- Brendan Silk (Melrose, Mass. / Austin Prep) - Tried to play but they shut him down. Was offered anyway. BC recruit.
-- Frankie Vatrano (E. Longmeadow, Mass. / Junior Bruins - Empire) - His team was in playoffs. Has a spot saved for him on team, but hasn't committed yet. BC recruit.
-- Quentin Shore (Denver, Colo. / Colorado Thunderbirds Midget Minor) -- Injured.
-- Alexander Galchenyuk (Chicago, Ill. / Chicago Young Americans Midget Minor) -- Terrific player who was invited to camp only to have the invitation rescinded when it was learned he was going major junior.
Nick Ebert, 6-1/185 (Livingston, N.J. / Waterloo Black Hawks - USHL) - He was a man among boys, probably because, with a full USHL season under his belt, he's been playing with and against players who are all older than he - men, for all practical purposes. By far the most dynamic blue liner in the camp. He has size and he has aggressiveness. Poise was OK, but could be an area he could work on. Everybody has long assumed Ebert would be going major junior, and he probably still will. However, college hockey is at least under consideration. While he may be playing the college card as leverage in dealings with OHL teams, he has also raised his grades, and visited North Dakota, where he reports that he liked what he saw. Wisconsin wants him, too. We're always skeptical in these situations, but the door to the NCAA has at least been opened and Ebert has peeked in. For now, though, there's also a question about whether he will go to the NTDP. He doesn't really need to. He's in a good situation in Waterloo where he's thriving playing with and against older players and under an excellent coach. USA Hockey will use him in international tournaments anyway.
Brady Skjei, 6-1/168 (Lakeville, Minn. / Lakeville North H.S.) -- Pronounced "Shea." Had a tremendous camp. Excellent skater with vision and playmaking ability. A jack Johnson type, though not as dynamic and aggressive. In other words, like Johnson, he loves to jump up into the play, and has the skating ability to do it, and get back.
Jacob Trouba, 6-1/173 (Rochester, Mich. / Compuware Midget Minor) - Got off to a slow start at camp, but he's a player. Think Jon Merrill. Good size, played with poise and assertiveness. Excellent skills. Smooth skater with acceleration. Jumps up at the right times. Doesn't play hard-nose physical game, but has real command. Knows what it is that a d-man is expected to do. Was committed to program before start of camp.
Seth Jones, 6-3/173 (Plano, Texas / Dallas Stars Midget Major) - Jones, being the son of NBA assistant Popeye Jones, has gotten a ton of press for someone so young, and there are many who feel he's way overrated. They could be right, at least as far as right now is concerned. He's lanky and skinny and very raw and tends to be all over the ice, but that can be addressed. What you can't teach is size and athleticism - and he has that. Not as physical as he could be but there's a lot of upside. There was concern that he would go to the WHL's Everett Silvertips, but he will be coming to Ann Arbor, at least for next year.
Connor Carrick, 5-9½/173 (Oak Lawn, Ill. / Chicago Fury Midget Minor) - Michigan recruit is kind of similar to a player with the Wolverines now - Steven Kampfer. Very good small defensemen. Skates very well. Mobile, quick. We see him running the power play down the line. Solid in all areas of the game. Even dropped the mitts. There were a lot of big D with big upside in the camp. Carrick was the best of the small D.
Dakota Mermis, 5-10/158 (Alton, Ill. / St. Louis Blues Midget Major) - Was offered and accepted. Had a really good camp. He's only 5'10", but plays bigger. Has a powerful skating stride. Hard to knock off the puck. Dynamic player who moves it really well. Nice hard tape-to-tape passes. Similar to Carrick in that we see him manning the PP at the Div. I level pretty soon after arriving. We give the edge to Carrick right now. Denver recruit.
Troy Donnay, 6-5/193 (Fenton, Mich. / Belle Tire Midget Minor) - Played well, nothing earth shattering, though. He's just very raw. However, there's a lot of upside and down the line he could be an excellent college/pro d-man. He's a huge kid, and a really good skater for size/age. Good stick. Moves puck well.
Justin Wade, 6-1/196 (Aurora, Ill. / Chicago Mission Midget Minor) -- Raw all the way around. Hockey sense was just average, so needs to keep it simple. Has size, though, and played hard. Not great upside, but there will be a role for him.
Matthew Grzelyck, 5-8/141 (Boston, Mass. / Belmont Hill School) - Very polished for his age, excellent stick, reads play well, smart, picks his spots, moves puck well, but he's small. What hurt him here, and kept him from the same echelon as other small D in camp - i.e. Carrick, Mermis - was a simple lack of assertiveness. Grzelyck is often referred to as a poor man's David Warsofsky. He's a BU recruit.
Max Iafrate, 6-0/201 (Baltimore, Md. / Belle Tire Midget Minor) - Athletic and physical with good overall skills. Hands OK. Hockey sense a question mark. Good N-S d-man. Son of Al Iafrate.
Mark Yanis, 6-2/185 (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich. / Belle Tire Midget Minor) - Has size, very raw. Tough and physical. N-S guy. Makes the obvious plays, but doesn't see it enough to do more.
Grant Webermin, 5-11/160 (Southfield, Mich. / Honeybaked Midget Minor) - Solid two-way d-man struggled a bit early but came around. Good quick shot that he was able to get on net. OK decisions. Nothing special, but not bad either.
Sam Piazza, 5-11/189 (Hinsdale, Ill. / Chicago Mission Midget Minor) - Good two-way player. Limited upside.
Dylan Blujus 6-3/193 (Buffalo, N.Y. / Buffalo Regals Midget Major) - Huge defenseman. Held his own. Probably made the camp more on size than anything else.
Matias Cleland, 5-10/161 (Boulder, Colo. / Colorado Thunderbirds Midget Minor) - Good hockey sense. Needs to work on skating.
Defensemen who did not play:
Patrick Sieloff (Ann Arbor, Mich. / Compuware Midget Minor) - injured
Jared Rutledge, 5-11/145 (Skokie, Ill. / Chicago Young Americans Midget Minor) - Most consistent goalie in camp. Was offered and accepted spot.
Under Strong Consideration:
Jon Gillies, 6'3½, 191 (South Portland, Maine / Salisbury School)
Gillies appears to be the #2 guy right now. However, unless he plays out of his mind at Nationals, there could be a lot of other guys who get serious looks before all is sorted out.
The other three goalies in camp were:
Dalton Izyk, 5-11, 189 (Syracuse, N.Y. / Syracuse Stars Midget Minor)
Brandon Hope, 5-11, 184 (Ann Arbor, Mich. / Honeybaked Midget Major)
Jake Moore, 5-8/143 (Arcade, N.Y. / Buffalo Regals Midget Minor)
Mon. 4/5/10-updated 4/6/10
Rooney Out at Thayer
After eight years, the Larry Rooney era at Thayer has come to an end.
The wheels fell off the bus this year, with the squad finishing 3-20-0, their only wins coming against Rivers (twice) and Catholic Memorial.
Rooney will continue to teach and coach golf at the school.
"Larry will be taking on added responsibility as a teacher and as an administrator in the admissions office," said Thayer AD Matt McGuirk. "He's also an advisor for a number of students and heads up the Thayer Academy Leadership Council. With the increased time commitment it was agreed that he wouldn't be able to put in the time to coach varsity hockey."
"For most coaches it's a 2-3 hours a day job and for us it's more than that," McGuirk added. "Larry knows how important hockey is to Thayer -- and it was pulling him away from his added responsibilities."
McGuirk said he will be conducting a wide-open search and hopes to have a new coach in place within three to four weeks.
Updated Tues. 4/6:
McGuirk reports that he's been inundated with emails, the candidate pool is filled, and he is no longer taking applications. The school is now moving into the interview process.
Kinsella Returning to USHL
Boston Rangers Midget AAA head coach Bobby Kinsella is returning to the USHL, having hired on as an assistant coach/recruiting coordinator for head coach Jim Montgomery of the expansion Dubuque Fighting Saints.
Kinsella, who is highly respected as a recruiter, started his first go-around in the USHL as a scout for the Sioux City Musketeers in the 2003-04 season. After two seasons in that capacity, then-head coach Dave Siciliano brought Kinsella on board as a full-time assistant coach/recruiting coordinator for three seasons. When Siciliano retired two years ago, Kinsella returned to his native Massachusetts to start up the Rangers program.
Kinsella says he's looking forward to returning to the USHL. But, he says, the last two years with the Rangers have been valuable as well. "It gave me experience as a head coach/general manager and also allowed me to help build an expansion team from scratch," he said. "I was also working part-time scouting for the New York Islanders, so that was a plus, too."
As a side note, Kinsella's fiancee, Jenny, is an Iowa native, so for her the move will be a return to her native state.
MacGregor to BU
6'4", 210 lb. Avon Old Farms senior defenseman Patrick MacGregor has committed to Boston University for this fall.
MacGregor, who came to Avon as a repeat junior from Hamden (Conn.) High, is a 7/12/90 birthdate with size, strength, and the ability to both clear out in front and get the puck out of his end efficiently. He improved significantly in his senior season, one in which Avon won its eighth prep title.
At BU, MacGregor will compete for playing time on the Terriers blue line, which has - as expected -- lost Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen, both departing for pro hockey with a year of NCAA eligibility remaining. However, David Warsofsky should be back, Sean Escobedo and Max Nicastro were the other D who played regularly this year, and Adam Clendening will be coming in from the US Under-18 Team. Unless there's someone else in the pipeline, it looks like Ben Rosen, Ryan Ruikka (who missed the season just ended due to injury), and MacGregor will be fighting it out for the 5-6 spots.
Conderman to River Hawks
5'9", 185 lb. Cushing Academy senior forward Mike Conderman has committed to UMass-Lowell.
A 2/26/91 birthdate from Rochester, NY, Conderman was the Penguins' leading scorer this past season with a 31-41-72 line in 31 games.
Conderman will play a year of juniors before joining the River Hawks in the fall of '11.
Montgomery To Be Named Dubuque Coach
RPI assistant Jim Montgomery will be named the head coach of the Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL), which, after a 10-year absence, will be returning to the USHL as an expansion franchise this fall.
Montgomery, 40, has been at RPI during all four years of Seth Appert's tenure, a time in which some pretty strong players have been recruited to Troy - Brandon Pirri, Jerry D'Amigo, and Chase Polacek, to name a few obvious ones off this year's team.
Since it's that time of year, we should crank up the time machine and recall that Montgomery was the MVP of the 1993 NCAA Tournament, helping Maine put the finishing touches on their 42-1-2 season. Not a bad college hockey team Shawn Walsh had that year. Freshman Paul Kariya notched 100 points, Montgomery had 95, diminutive Air Force transfer Cal Ingraham had 85, The Ferraro Twins -- Peter and Chris -- chipped in a bunch of points. Chris Imes was the mainstay on the blue line. Mike Dunham and Garth Snow were the two goaltenders. No, not a bad college hockey team at all.
Fri. 4/2/10-updated 4/3
We're working on a more complete picture of this week's NTDP Evaluation Camp (‘94s) in Ann Arbor. For now, though here are our confirmed commitments.
(Note: DNP denotes ‘did not play' due to injury or, in the case of Vatrano, prior commitment.)
Forwards Offered (9):
Nicolas Kerdiles, 6-0/179 (Lewisville, Texas /LA Selects Midget Minor)
Nickolas Olsson - DNP (Escondido, Calif. / LA Selects Midget Minor)
A.J. Michaelson, 6-0 (Apple Valley, Minn. / Apple Valley H.S.)
Cam Darcy, 5-11½/175 (South Boston, Mass. / Dexter School)
Thomas Di Pauli, 5-9/169 (Woodridge, Ill. / Chicago Mission Midget Minor)
Stephane Matteau, 6-0½/195 (Chicago, Ill. / Notre Dame (Sask.) Hounds)
Brendan Silk - DNP, for the most part (Melrose, Mass. / Austin Prep)
Frankie Vatrano - DNP (E. Longmeadow, Mass. / Junior Bruins - Empire)
Ryan Hartman, 5-10/173 (West Dundee, Ill. / Chicago Mission Midget Minor)
Kerdiles and Olsson were offered before the start of the camp, and accepted.
Here are some of the forwards who made a strong impression and are under consideration.
Nate Arentz, 5-11/158 (Lakeville, Minn./ Lakeville North H.S)
Riley Barber, 5-10/179 (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Compuware Midget Minor)
Matthew Lane, 5-8½/150 (Rochester, N.Y. / Missassauga Reps Minor)
Zach Stepan, 5-11/155 (Hastings, Minn. / Shattuck-St. Mary's U16)
Vincent Hinostroza, 5-8½/144 (Melrose Park, Ill. / Chicago Mission Midget Minor)
Defensemen Offered (7):
Jacob Trouba, 6-1/173 (Rochester, Mich. / Compuware Midget Minor)
Seth Jones, 6-3/173 (Plano, Texas / Dallas Stars Midget Major)
Nick Ebert, 6-1/185 (Livingston, N.J. / Waterloo Black Hawks - USHL)
Connor Carrick, 5-9½/173 (Oak Lawn, Ill. / Chicago Fury Midget Minor)
Dakota Mermis, 5-10/158 (Alton, Ill. / St. Louis Blues Midget Major)
Brady Skjei, 6-1/168 (Lakeville, Minn. / Lakeville North H.S.)
Patrick Sieloff - DNP (Ann Arbor, Mich. / Compuware Midget Minor)
Trouba and Jones were offered prior to the camp. Ebert, too, though his situation is a little different as he played last winter at Waterloo (USHL) and the NTDP is recruiting him. Trouba and Jones are definitely coming.
Goaltenders Offered (1):
Jared Rutledge, 5-11/145 (Skokie, Ill. / Chicago Young Americans Midget Minor)
Jon Gillies, 6'3½, 191 (South Portland, Maine / Salisbury School)
Gillies appears to be the #2 guy right now. However, unless he plays out of his mind at Nationals, there could be a lot of other guys who get serious looks before all is sorted out.
Darcy to St. Botolph Street
6'1", 180 lb. Dexter sophomore forward Cam Darcy has committed to Northeastern for the fall of '12.
A 3/2/94 birthdate from South Boston, Mass., Darcy is a big, athletic power forward type who, when paired with someone who'll get him the puck, can put up numbers. A right shot forward, he can play both center - he's good on draws - or on the wing.
In 27 games for Dexter this season, Darcy had a 21-25-46 line. Three of those goals came in Dexter's semifinal win over Hebron.
Darcy had a strong showing over the weekend at the NTDP evaluation camp in Ann Arbor and was offered - and accepted -- a spot for next season on the Under-17 Team. Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin was out there watching him, and obviously liked what he saw.
Darcy returned from Ann Arbor on Tuesday, and made his visit to Northeastern the next day (yesterday). For the Huskies, this is a significant commitment simply because it breaks the mold. Until now, the best young Boston-area kids - the early commit types -- would hold out for BU and BC. In this case, it didn't get that far, as the Northeastern staff watched Darcy a lot during the season, and put in the work.
Huskies Strike Again
Northeastern is on the warpath, and feeling bullish about their future. Head coach Greg Cronin and assistant coach Albie O'Connell went out to the NTDP Evaluation camp, liked what they saw from '94 forward Cam Darcy, and got a commitment from him (see below). Now they have added '94 goaltender Jon Gillies, who was also at the NTDP camp.
Gillies, who is 6'5" and 204 lbs., was a freshman at Salisbury last winter, meaning he will arrive at St. Botolph St. in the fall of '12 or '13, depending on whether or not he accelerates. This past winter, he got in seven games, posting a .924 save percentage playing behind junior Gabe Antoni. He's big, athletic, competitive, but still a little raw, mainly because he's still growing into his 6'5" frame.
At the NTDP camp over the weekend, Gillies didn't play that well over the first two days, but was very good on the third and fourth days. The NTDP will keep watching him at Nationals, which start next Wednesday in Chicago. Gillies will be playing for the Neponset Valley River Rats Under-16 Team, which is coached by 20-year-old Frank O'Connor (who, by the way, was playing in prep school just a couple of years ago, and will certainly be the youngest coach in Chicago). The U-16 River Rats also feature '93 forwards Matt Salhany of Bishop Hendricken (offered by Merrimack) and Devin Tringale of Lawrence Academy, who will probably go Ivy. The best prospect on the blue line is 6'1" Salisbury '94 freshman Mark Hamilton.
"Gillies was the backbone of our team in the fall,"O'Connor said, "and we'll definitely be riding him in the Nationals." The River Rats, after scrimmaging the Chicago Fury on Tuesday, face Mid-Fairfield in their opener on Wednesday.
Gillies, a 1/22/94 birthdate from South Portland, Maine, is the son of former Bishop Brady and UNH star goaltender Bruce Gillies, who went on to play several years in the Edmonton organization. His uncle, Chris Gillies, was a goaltender at Denver in the late ‘80s. And going way back, his grandfather was a goalie at Norwich. Clearly, goaltending is something that gets handed down through the generations in the Gillies family.